USB CODECs Feature Audiophile DACs

ESS Technology’s latest USB Low-Power Audiophile CODECs feature QUAD DAC technology. Intended for use in headsets and audio adaptors, the CODECs can support end-to-end audiophile quality. 


The family is built around a low-power USB controller that supports USB 1.1 and 2.0 and can handle audio data rates up to 32-bit 384-kHz PCM.  It relies on a SABRE DAC audio converter with HyperStream II modulation that provides a stable sound field. The integrated headphone amp delivers up to 2-Vrms output voltage. 


The parts also include all the needed blocks to make designing a USB audio system simple, including jack detect, button detection, and GPIO inputs/outputs for custom buttons or switches.  Reference designs are available for USB-C audio adaptors and USB-C headsets, and the parts can be easily customized using external EEPROM.


The ES9281PRO is the flagship of the CODECs and can provide best-in-class audio performance at 124 dB DNR and -112 Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N).


It is touted as the first USB product to offer an integrated hardware Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) renderer. Reportedly, MQA technology is becoming widely accepted as the standard for distributing ultra-high-quality music across a variety of platforms. 


The ES9280PRO offers the same impressive audiophile features as the ES9281PRO but without the MQA rendering. Both products feature a wide range of additional input formats beyond USB.  In addition to the standard microphone support, they feature stereo line input and 8-channel I2S, allowing it to act as USB audio bridge for desktop audio player applications.


The third product in the line, The ES9270, offers a streamlined solution focused on creating high-quality headsets and dongles.  The ES9270 can provide 117 dB DNR and -110 Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N) and features the same low-power audio controller as the flagship, without the ASP or I2S bridge.  These parts are ideal for mainstream USB-C headsets and adaptors that still want great sound.


Samples, evaluation boards, and reference designs are available now for all three parts.  For more information, visit ESS Technology.


Suggested Articles

DTS system stacks slices to process and record flight data from many sensors

Western Digital announced a strategic partnership with Platform IO Labs.

Cheetah system from Innovusion combines proprietary electronics with advanced optics and software